Sunday, November 9, 2014

Bread And Circuses, Symposia, Or...?

We need to begin serious discussions now about how we will economically adapt to many current jobs being performed by robots.

Consider self checkout at the market and the library. Clerical tasks once performed by professional, well trained, highly skilled librarians are now performed by computers cooperating with the library patron. Librarians are still essential, but fewer of them are required to attain the same level of performance. At first, you might think that this is good for librarians. Now they have time for more serious tasks and longer need to devote themselves to what is essentially a repetitive clerical function. However, consider that this was one of the ways which librarians most interacted with the patrons they were serving. Also, it becomes a money-saving measure for government through reducing the number of librarians actually employed.

So robots are already taking jobs away from humans. This is a trend which shows every sign of rapid expansion. With even self driving cars now legal in some states, it is clear that humanity will soon find itself with far fewer occupations available when seeking employment. What will happen in the future when the leisured class includes almost everyone?

The Roman model was bread and circuses for the unemployable mass of poor citizens. The Greeks turned to a planned level of limited wealth ("How far the Persians have traveled to rob us of our poverty!” said Spartan king Pausanias.) combined with public service and a rich intellectual life.

With robots filling the jobs held by slaves in classical economies and by minimum wage, part time employees in ours (and potentially many skilled functions as well), a strategy to keep the unemployed occupied is essential. The topic is as challenging and interesting as it is essential.

Any thoughts?

Consider the interrelated fields of cosplay, role-play, historical reenactment, fanfics, and other ways of extending entertainment from a passive act to an active one.

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